Mora - could this be the future

Just when you think you have a cutting tool that ticks all the boxes - just when your happy with your tool choice for bushcraft and wilderness living someone brings out a new shiny that makes your wallet cringe and your feather sticking hand twitch.

I'm not interested in expensive over priced woodlore clones or their spin offs - been there done those and ya their good but I live in the real world were I actually use my knife - a lot - and expect and want a work man like tool, not some fancy dangler to wear once a year at some gathering or another!

I like Scandinavian knives and I generally like camp sized knives. Presently my knife of choice (with my axe and buck saw combo) is still my M95 Sissipuukko a good friend gave my a few years ago (Perkele!) these three tools have seen me right on many adventures from the warmth of a summer canoe trip to the icy thrills of a subarctic winter survival camp.

But recently I found this review on youtube from the camp of Mr D Canterbury and I have to say I was most impressed both with brother Dave's review and the tool itself!!

Oh did I mention its a Mora knife?? ") No well my friends it is and that can mean only one thing - a half decent knife no matter what - but watching the video I can see this one the MORA BUSHCRAFT PATHFINDER knife has much more potential.

The knife isn't even on the Mora website yet so I don't know the specs or the price (bet your bottom dollar its not less than £50 though) - I'd go so far as to guess around the £70 - £80 mark, but we'll see.

Anyway looks like this could be the new bench mark knife for the woodsman, so I thought I'd share this review DC posted with you - see what you think .............. oh last thing - Mora Bushcraft Pathfinder and Mora Companion knife together, maybe on a combo sheath could this end up being the ultimate outdoorsmans "factory made" combo or to use a Canterburyism "common man" combo????

Yep I am excited about this ................cant wait for them to appear on the shelves so I can get my grubby little mitts on one!

Oh and btw nice review too Mr C!!

Foot note - as of today 02/04/14 - I've been told Mora expects the release of this knife in the UK to be approximately 2 months so by my reckoning that makes it June!! In time for my birthday and midsummer!


Old Hickory - update

Earlier this year I tried to trial the OLD HICKORY butcher knife which, mostly thanks to Dave Canterbury and his fans, was receiving a lot of attention.

As you will probably know I was disappointed as the scales fell off ............... but unperturbed I epoxied the scales back on and decided to give it a second chance.

The knife itself is a weigh and size I like - I know its a butcher knife NOT a bushcraft knife but what is a bushcraft knife? My thoughts, and again these are similar to the DC camp, is that back in the day mountain men and back woodsmen would have taken such tools with them into the wilderness - indeed George Laycock and David Montgomery among others also support this line of thought.

So would it have been kept exclusively for butchery or would it have been employed for general duties?

Hard to say - but personally I think anyone who had a knife with them would, regardless of its type, use it for whatever tasks they needed it for. Even if we consider the trinity of tool, knife - saw - axe, we would still need use the knife for many varied tasks.

So I decided to give it a go - test it against a Mora no1 and a Opinel no8 in a small carving contest.


Overall I was very pleased with the end result, the knife batoned well and the scales remained on this time! Carving with the single bevel (I had to sharpen the knife straight from new to get a decent edge) was ok and as before

 ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZIuSAOrf9Y&list=UUTid1QaZEjj3AJU6xYQcIUQ)

Feather sticks etc were fine.

In the end my thoughts are thus - I will continue to carry the Old Hickory Butcher knife but married up with my trusty old Mora No1 - indeed I am pondering making a piggy back sheath for the pair. The versatility offered by these two tools is excellent, the price likewise very good - you do need to invest a little time on the edge and epoxying the scales on, a sheath is needed too - but you get a lot of knife for your buck!!


Trials of life

Firstly, let me apologise for the quiet blog - my work life balance has been in turmoil, I have moved home etc etc ............... but now things are slowly returning to normal and as such this blog will soon be back up to speed.

Now, I am in the process of writing a book which will have other media/interactive access but more on this later. As part of this book I have been out and about testing items and ideas and over the last couple of days I had a quick camp out with the sole purpose of testing a blanket for warmth as a sleeping item when used without a campfire.

As such myself and one of my oldest buddies (wiggy) headed out into the local woods ,,,,,,,,,, our gear was as per the kit items I will be listing in the book and the test was to examine the survivability of a person caught out with a blanket but unable to light a fire ............

Good results, cold wet January night - but all in all not a bad night!

More to come!!


Interesting article found on line ..................................................

Wool – The Miracle Fibre



Comfort, Coolness, Resilience, Wrinkle Recovery, Absorption, Drape, Elasticity, Style,


Texture, Tenacity, Warmth



Wool has it all – naturally



Try as they may, scientists have not been able to produce a single fibre to match the properties of wool


There is a common misconception that wool is best suited exclusively for warmth in cool conditions. Scientific tests however negate this concept and consistently show that wool is ideal for apparel and bedding in hot, humid, dry, cold or wet conditions.


Wool has unique attributes, which give it superior performance to other fibres in a number of ways. Our bodies continually produce heat at a rate dependant on our activity level, this heat must be dissipated to the surroundings in the form of perspiration, at the same rate at which it is produced, to keep the body temperature constant1. When used in bedding wool creates a microclimate that assists in regulating body temperature and humidity. The degree to which body temperature and humidity is regulated is known as thermophysical comfort, that is, a state in which the individual is free from thermal stress.


Freedom from thermal stress is directly related to degree of rest. There are a number of thermophysical responses that can be measured to indicate how well rested a person is at any given time. Several studies examining and comparing the performance of wool blankets have consistently shown that in hot and cold conditions wool provides comfort and a more restful sleep than any other fibre type.


Umbach from the Holstein Institute in Germany, designed and undertook a series of studies to determine the measured responses which are most indicative of a rested nights sleep2. He found that first and foremost that the heart rate is the most accurate indicator. A person with a slow and regular heart beat is far more relaxed than a person with a fast pace and/or irregular heart beat. Two factors, which will be reflected in the heart rate, are the temperature and humidity of the bed microclimate. It is a well-known fact that in order for the major organs of the human body to function efficiently, the core temperature must be maintained at or near 37oC.


Using the thermophysical responses related to sleep behaviour, Umbach monitored several body and climate functions to compare the performance of wool versus acrylic blankets3. Subjects were monitored in environment controlled (temperature, humidity and airflow) rooms. It was found that the pulse rate of sleepers under wool blanket was normal at 60 beats per minute, where as it rose erratically up to 80 beats per minute under the acrylic blanket, indicating greater stress on the sleeping person. This was easily explained by Umbach’s other observations: the wool blanket absorbed 50% more perspiration than the acrylic blanket, and cotton pyjamas worn by the participant remained drier while they were under wool blankets. The microclimate under the acrylic blanket was too hot and humid for comfort.




The Ergonomics Unit at the Polytechnic of Wales compared comfort properties and sleep patterns of subjects sleeping under duvets rather than blankets4, again in an environment controlled room. When the bedroom was at 16oC, all sleepers were comfortable although the humidity under the wool duvet was lower. Interestingly, pulse rates under the wool filled duvets were again found to be lower than under the polyester filled duvets.


However, at 22oC the results were statistically discounted because the subjects under the polyester bedding exposed their limbs for periods of time in an effort to cool down. This response was poor substitute for the thermophysically controlled microclimate as found under the wool duvet.


A third trial designed by P.R Dickson used the subject’s own room and bed as a control. Time-lapse photography monitored movement during the night to determine the sleep quality5. Dickson found statistically significant differences in the number of immobile periods, immobile sequences, and the percentage of the total time spent sleeping with the wool blanket compared with the acrylic surface. Again the wool blanket was proven to be the most restful surface to sleep upon.


The positive health effect of sleeping with wool is best illustrated by a study by Scott et al6 of low birthweigth babies. This study found that babies nursed on lambs wool consistently showed a significant improvement in weight gain over and above those nursed by conventional methods using cotton.


Wool’s comfort advantages have traditionally been attributed to the capacity of the fibre to absorb a significant proportion of it’s own mass as watera7. Researchers agree that more than simply absorb, wool fibres have the ability to buffer by reacting to the humidity level within the particular environment. As the humidity rises, wool will absorb and store moisture as required. When the level decreases, the fibre releases the moisture thus regulating the microclimate. This property ensures that a damp, clammy feeling will never be experienced with wool. In this way, instead of the body regulating the microclimate, the wool bedding acclimatizes the body, ensuring a healthier rest with an even heart rate and blood pressure.


Another advantage of wool over other fibres is it’s outstanding insulating properties especially when compared with synthetic fibres8. The unique three-dimensional form of wool allows it to trap small pockets of air, thus giving it an insulating property. This property ensures that temperature changes are slow and gradual so that the bed’s microclimate has time to equilibrate. Rapid changes in heat loss or gain would hinder temperature and humidity regulation.


Wool’s natural resilience, is another property which aids comfort. The pile of an underlay will reduce pressure points and cushion the body. Tests using underlays with elderly and bedridden patients in hospitals have shown dramatic differences between the performance of wool and polyester bedpads. The following results clearly identify the advantages of wool.


Patients on wool had significant fewer skin problems than those on polyester pads. 77% of those on wool had no problems compared to 38% on polyester. Of those with debcutis, only 8% had a problem for more than one month while 38% on polyester had problems for a period for more than one month. In addition, no patients on wool pads had renewal of skin irritation once the initial problem had cleared up, while 14% had repetitive periods of irritation on polyesterb9. The health aspects of sleeping on wool continually outrank similar synthetic products.


a Wool can absorb 33.9% of it’s weight in water compared with synthetics at 0-4%, cotton 8%

b Sample space of twenty-six on wool underlays and twenty-one on polyester



An additional benefit to using wool products for bedding is the peace of mind in knowing wool is naturally resistant to ignition and is self-extinguishing. Perhaps the most dramatic demonstration of this was a trial developed to evaluate wool and polyester overlays to the British Standard B.S 7175. The ignition sources were, from one to six; a cigarette, 3 butane flames (the smallest of which represents a burning match) and 4 wooden cribs of various weights.


Results showed that the mattress assembly containing the wool underlay was capable of resisting ignition source 5, (wooden crib 16g) with no evidence of progressing smoldering. The polyester overlay however, when tested with a simulated match (ignition source 2) was found to act as a secondary source of ignition requiring extinguishing after eight minutes10. The ignition sources are numbered relative to their propensity to ignite the test material.


Wool with it’s unique physical properties is the ideal fibre for bedding applications, it has been subjectively and scientifically proven from a number of perspectives that wool has the advantage over other fibre types. Irrespective of whether wool is used for protection or comfort, its applications are suitable for conditions ranging from hot and humid tropics to the harsh and freezing Antarctic.


Wool has it all:-

-                        superior insulation

-                        resilience

-                        moisture absorption

-                        moisture buffering

-                        flame resistance

-                        therapeutic value

On wool, nature’s miracle fibre, you will rest comfortably, safely and rest assured.









1 “Wool – Why is it comfortable?”, B.Holcombe, Proceedings of the 8th Int. Wool Text. Res. Conf., Vol V., Fibre                         

     assemblies and product Properties, ed G.H Cranshaw (WRONZ) 1990, 205-214.

2 “Comparative Thermophysical tests on Blankets Made From Wool and Acrylic-Fibre-Cotton Blends”, K.H.Umbach,  

     J.Text. Inst., 1986, No.3.

3 “Comparative Thermophysical Tests on Blankets Made From Wool and Acrylic-Fibre-Cotton Blends”, K.H.Umbach,  

     J.Text. Inst., 1986, No.3.

4 “An Ergonomic Comparison of Wool and Polyester-Filled Quilts” , Polytechnic of Wales, Ergonomics Unit,

     published in IWS Technical Letter Number 26.

5 “Effect of a fleecy woollen underlay on sleep”, P.R.Dickson, The medical Journal of Australia, January 21, 1984,


6 “Weight Gain and movement patterns of Very Low Birthweight Babies Nursed on Lambswool”, S.Scott, P.Lucas,       .        

      T.Cole and M.Richards, Child care and development Group University of Cambridge and the MRC Dunn Nutrition  

      Unit Cambridge, Oct 1980-Sept 1981.

7 W.E Morton and J.W.S Hearle, Physical Properties of Fibre, The Textile Institute Manchester, 1986 Edition

8 W.E Morton and J.W.S Hearle, Physical Properties of Fibre, The Textile Institute Manchester 1986 Edition.

9 “Wool Pile Sliver Knit Bedpan Evaluation at Franklin Park Nursing Home”, L.R.Mizell, W.H.Marsden and V.Butler, 

     Summary report by New Market Outlet Section,IWS November 1974.

10 CPB-99 “The Flammability Performance of Wool and Polyester Mattress Overlays”, R.Woolin, J.LWebb, IWS

     Technical Information Bulletin, 29 June 1987.  


Ramblings of a mad man

Today I took the rare opportunity to get a few hours in the woods - these days it seems I eat, sleep and shit work and not by choice and if I'm not at work I'm commuting back and forth as the blood sucking solicitors still haven't sorted out my house sale ............... but all that aside or maybe because of it any down time I get I enjoy even more.

So today I took the rare ........... oh ya already said that.

The hike and woodland walk was great, but the reason I am drawn to write is because I had time to actually sit and think. And in so doing a few random thoughts popped to the surface and demanded to be shared.

My trip was dual purpose I wanted to recce my new woods some more and I wanted to hike with weight - so I packed my old LK35 with standard gear, wool blankets and even a canvas tarp.

And this was heavy .......and got me thinking about the kit we carry and why.

Most people carry very similar kits (and dress the same too) and whether your a Ray Mears fan with his "something to sleep in, something to carry it in, something to cook in" approach or a Dave Canterbury 10C's follower the kit you carry is generally that recommended by these perceived guru's and your peers (woe betide the forum followers wallet)...........and of course as a learner this is what you carry and learn to use and as such it becomes your kit, the norm and what you recommend to others - and that is great and if your content with this status quo good for you, but I wonder if sometimes we don't become a little bit to relaxed about our kit and loose track of the reason for carrying it.

As I sat in the dapple shade of a ancient yew tree these questions entered my mind -

Q1 - What is our aim? Are we practicing bushcraft as a hobby for bushcrafts sack OR is there another motive? Also what is the aim of the trip we are making - is it a day trip to a local wood or a week or longer hike across arctic Finland (as Ross points of for the day hike surely if we don't have all the bells and whistles of brand name kit WE WILL DIE!)

Q2 - How likely and how often are we going to achieve our aim? If our aim is just to enjoy the woods while walking the dog that's achievable daily but do we need bushcraft skills or kit? While if our aim is (and this is often my thinking when looking at kit - and one which is probably never going to be achieved but one which drives me to get the toughest most robust gear) to hike DUE SOUTH from the great slave lake to the Canadian border then bushcraft skills and kit might not only be handy but life saving.

Q3 - Do we need more or less gear - to achieve our aim?? Just because Kephart said he had one do you? Just because Ray Mears has a SFA do you need one? Often I will go into the woods for a couple of weeks and be amazed how little, if at all, I use my sheath knife or maybe my axe for example but my cook pot gets used daily and yet the cook pot isn't the thing most of use will happily spend a weeks wages on.

Q4 - How important do we want to make fire?? A comment on a previous post made me consider this for if we want fire to be central to our experience then surely we need a shelter and sleep system that can handle fire - is it a good thing or bad thing that these days we set up a camp with a central fire to cook on etc but then basha up 100 yards away and need to hike in bulky 3 season sleeping bags to keep us warm in the night while 100 yards away our fire burns down to nothing? Worse, I put it to you members of the jury that it is indeed a crime that we so do, some felon's even stock up the fire before turning in .............

Q5 Can we rely on Fire? For example if we decide our aim is a weeks hike across subarctic Sweden in Feb using a blanket and fire do we have the skills and knowledge to achieve this? Is it wiser to carry a sleeping bag and a stove (and I don't mean just as a emergency back up kit which like a first aid kit we should always carry if were smart)

So what are the answers to these questions?? I expect they are different for us all - some as I say will be happy maybe there are others like myself who even after all these years, with all the accumulated knowledge of over thirty years living and working outdoors who are yet to decide - or maybe it is and will always be so that outdoors folk never seem to reach that utopia of kit after all where would the bushcraft industry be if Ray Mears didn't change his rucksack or trouser brand annually?

Anyway folks have a think how applicable are Questions 1 - 5 in your outdoor sojourns ........


Real woodcraft consists rather in knowing how to get along without the appliances of civilization than in adapting them to wildwood life.
Kephart, Horace, 1862-1931.